The Checkers’ season came to a heartbreaking end Sunday as they dropped a do-or-die Game 3 to Hartford 3-1.

Hartford broke the ice midway through the opening frame, then the two sides locked up in a stalemate for a lengthy chunk of regulation. The Checkers struggled to put anything past Wolf Pack netminder Dylan Garand, and an early power-play strike in the third from the visitors extended their lead.

Hartford’s special teams broke through again with five to play via a shorthanded tally to push further ahead. Brendan Perlini wired a wrister in on a power play soon after to get Charlotte on the board and sparked a strong push down the final minutes of regulation, but the Checkers couldn’t quite find the back of the net before the clock ran down on their season.


Coach Geordie Kinnear on the game
I thought it was a good hockey game. I give that group a lot of credit, especially the goaltender. I thought he ended up being the difference. He played back-to-back games with overtime yesterday, so they deserve a lot of credit. They played hard. You look at all their games for the most part against us, it was tight and not a lot of chances either way. A lot of respect for that group.

Kinnear on not being able to break through offensively until late
We talked about traffic a little bit more, but early on I thought we were on it, we were moving the puck and had our chances. We just didn’t execute. (Garand) built confidence over the last little bit, and ultimately we saw his best.

Kinnear on his message to the team
I already talked to the group. The consistency with this group was unbelievable. If you look at the work ethic and how we played, I think there’s some major building blocks for some guys. Obviously there’s going to be a lot of disappointment because it’s a great group, but you always remember how hard winning is because only one team does it in the end. We want to make sure we take lessons along the way, no matter if it’s the end of the year or day-to-day. Continue to get better as people, coaches and players. At some point if you have that mindset, you’ll win in the end.


This ended a run of five consecutive seasons in which the Checkers won a playoff series … The Checkers fell to 1-3 all-time in winner-take-all playoff games. All four of those games were in first rounds … Each team scored one power-play goal in each game of this series. Hartford had 14 total opportunities to the Checkers’ seven … Checkers scratches included forwards Riley Bezeau, Ryan McAllister, Cam Morrison and Ben Steeves; defensemen Lucas Carlsson, Evan Nause and Andy Welinski; and goaltenders Cooper Black and Mack Guzda.